Chicago Unveils MMJ Zoning Plan

Legislators in Chicago have rolled out a plan that confines medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation sites to the city’s manufacturing district.

The businesses would also be required to secure special-use permits and a minimum number of parking permits under the plan.

Under the proposal, businesses would need to apply for a permit with the Zoning Board of Appeals, which would allow local residents to object to the operations.

The plan was put together by assemblyman Edward Burke and the city’s Department of Planning and Development. As part of the proposal, the city would also decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana this August, and the measure officially takes effect Jan. 1. The state is still developing regulations and will begin the licensing process next year.

The state law limits the number of cultivation centers at 22 and caps dispensaries at 60 as well. It also prohibits any marijuana cultivation business from operating within 2,500 feet of a school.

Quinn said the law “has the nation’s strictest safeguards to prevent abuse.” Medial patients cannot grow their own marijuana. Only doctors that are currently treating a patient for a specific malady can prescribe marijuana. Under the program, patients can purchase 2.5 ounces of marijuana during a two-week period.